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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

12 August 2010

Hiking and wine tasting

Hike up Table MountainToday we hiked up Table Mountain, via the Platterklip Gorge route which goes straight up the Cape Town face of it. I guess it underscores our “outdoorsy” nature that we much preferred the knackering hike up to the cablecar trip down with 40 other people.

Cape Town is described as a beautiful city, but these things often come down to setting. The three big cities we’ve visited that often get remarked on are Rio de Janiero, Vancouver and Cape Town. All three have epic backdrops, rather than fantastic streets and buildings. For the record, I think Rio pips the other two. Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain is hardly shoddy though:

We haven’t even begun to explore Cape Town – just a morning’s walk, and that on a Sunday. As you may have predicted, we were drawn instead to the Cape Peninsula, for whale watching, walking among the fynbos and looking out for wildlife. I think we tend to get more cultural when in company, so we need to come back to Cape Town with friends! And more budget. ; )

Wine TastingUpdate! Didn’t even get that posted. It’s now the next day, and today we wandered around the winelands of Stellenbosch and Somerset West, tasted a total of 18 wines (at Vergelegen and Waterford) and had an excellent meal at one of the vineyard restaurants. So much for the theory that we’re outdoorsy types. But we did at least agree that one day was enough, as wine tasting and touring is better with friends.

We were in Burgundy earlier this year, so could offer to compare the Old and New world of wines. Burgundy: smaller production, free tasting, older vintages, rolling countryside, better wine, £20+ for a decent bottle. Stellenbosch: bigger production, trivial cost for tastings, vintages all under 5 years, majestic mountain backdrops, wine from adequate to good, £8+ for a decent bottle.

The meal, at Terroir on the Kleine Zalze winery, was excellent. If I were reviewing them for Hardens (our favourite UK restaurant guide) I’d give Food 2, Service 2, Ambience 3. That would be based on South African prices, though. We paid £70 for the meal, which I would have expected to pay £150 for in England.

Anyway, this along with the wineries has been duly added to our Recommended section where we are leaving a brief review of everywhere we sleep, eat, visit or look for wildlife. Maybe someday someone planning a holiday will find it useful!

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8 Responses to “Hiking and wine tasting”

  1. Nessa says:

    Wow, the views look amazing. And hiking up there certainly beats my trip to the gym!! What was the food like in the restaurant? Big steaks?

    • shortclaws says:

      There have been lots of big steaks, but not here.

      Maureen had some lovely rare springbok with a lagavulin whiskey sauce and a pear tartlet, and I had a (small) fillet steak with pearl barley risotto. Starters were also good, and puddings excellent (although quite atrociously the sticky toffee pudding was not served warm!).

      It was funny, but sitting down and being given a menu with various “jus” and “foam”, with foie gras and truffles here and there, and terms in French and Italian, it was the first thing that really made me think of home. ; )


  2. Tim says:

    Your description of the rather different wine tasting experience reminds me very much of other new world wine areas. Western Australia (c1995) was an exception though, but it was virtually unknown then, so I wonder if that’s changed.

    Just been working all weekend – wish I was there with you!

    Your comment about foam and truffles just has to go on twitter!

    • shortclaws says:

      We are planning to do a little wine tasting everywhere we go, so we’ll be able to swap experiences with you. Wish you were here too!


  3. Ann says:

    Just been catching up with all the pics and blog. They are brill as usual. Keep it coming. We back home don’t have too much to add. Except my little Georgie and Bibi think that the sofa in the Bee shed is all theirs to sleep on and would not dream of taking their chances with the big cats.

    The owls have started calling after being quiet for so long which is great. They stopped when they chopped some trees down in the copse opposite. So, need a bird book do you? I know what to buy you as Xmas pressie now.

    See you in Nepal.

    Ps I have had my first rabies jab and we have bought a cross trainer so the intention is not to slow you up too much.

    • shortclaws says:

      Just go for lots more country walks. Especially ones involving lots of hills! We went for a good hike today along the coast to a waterfall, but they don’t really have civilised footpaths in South Africa – there’s always lots of clambering over boulders.

  4. Dave says:

    Can’t believe I missed this posting, having read it there are a few things I need to comment on here, firstly enjoying a hike up a hill with a loved one Vs a slow descent in a suspended steel box full of other peoples farts and egos is a no brainer. A basic preference for hygeine coupled with a healthy dose of misanthropy explains your well adjusted position on this choice.

    Secondly I totally agree with your take on Rio, looking back towards Corcovado from the top of Sugarloaf mountain at sunset while the cables are shrouded in golden cloud is a view that few cities in the world could ever compete with. I haven’t been to Cape Town but it’s good to hear Rio still has top billing on that front.

    Finally where is the mention of Ken Forrester and his ‘legendary’ Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc? I’m guessing this is confirmation of the fact that Ken is export only muck that the natives wouldn’t touch with an oily rag?

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